I often have experience when questioning things related to my English learning process. I will post here as a conversation between a native speaker (NS) and non-native speaker (Non-NS):

Non-NS: What is the meaning of the expression across the pond? Is it really a situation when someone in the UK mentions about a place in the USA?

NS: Did you check your dictionary? Go for it first then if you did but haven't found the answer you may ask me.

That sort of situation really makes me frustrated, while as a learner I always need encouragement so then I have self confidence in improving my English ability.

Is it a bad luck when an English learner (when they are learning) does not feel supported by native speaker?

  • 7
    If you ask about a definition here, you will probably get asked to check a dictionary or two. This is meant to instill good language learning skills (you learn and remember stuff better when you find it yourself, rather than being told). As for idioms that is a little different. But still, it does not hurt if you do a quick interet search for "across the pond" define and you will find many definitions. It is when you cannot find or understand defintions that you should ask here.
    – GoDucks
    Commented Dec 23, 2015 at 15:10
  • @GoDucks: Will the native speaker say It's okay. Don't worry. I am also a learner to show that they can feel what the learner does?
    – amalia
    Commented Dec 23, 2015 at 15:15
  • 3
    Well, I don't personally think you should "feel" anything about such advice. It is meant to be helpful and practical and neutral advice. It is like saying get the oil in your car changed every 6 to 12 thousand miles or look both ways before you cross the street. If you feel bad after receiving practical advice, maybe the speaker didn't say it kindly, or it is possible that some people are oversensitive to some advice.
    – GoDucks
    Commented Dec 23, 2015 at 15:19
  • @GoDucks: Oh, is it really so? I don't think that I am feeling excited to do as it is expected because I am saying to myself Oh, come on! Don't you know that I am learning hard and needing your support! Even, when addressing the question I have to think hard to find the English words so then you do understand what I really mean. Sort of feeling.
    – amalia
    Commented Dec 23, 2015 at 15:37
  • 2
    @amalia I can understand your frustration. However, it helps us know that you are working hard at learning if you include any attempts you have made at understanding the phrase. Including any definitions you have found in a dictionary or on the web helps us help you.
    – DJMcMayhem
    Commented Dec 23, 2015 at 16:38
  • 2
    amalia -- Yes. My high school's wrestling coach put up posters. One poster said: "Luck is when preparation meets opportunity." In your example, "bad preparation" + "opportunity" = "bad luck". (A wrestling match is an opportunity. If a wrestler is poorly prepared, they will probably lose, and might get seriously hurt. If a wrestler is well-prepared, they can take advantage of brief chances to win.)
    – Jasper
    Commented Dec 23, 2015 at 19:24
  • 4
    amalia -- As explained in the Tour, "This site is all about getting answers. It's not a discussion forum. There's no chit-chat." There is a policy to be nice -- and your quoted interaction followed that policy. If you want "self-confidence", you need to develop it yourself, by noticing your accomplishments. Your "feelings" are your own. This site is about honesty and improvement, not "chit-chat" to build up individual users' feelings.
    – Jasper
    Commented Dec 23, 2015 at 19:44
  • 2
    @amalia, depends on the context. If you are in an English as a Second Language classroom then you may well get more positive feedback than asking some other customer in a bar this question out of the blue. There can be some variables here worth considering.
    – JB King
    Commented Dec 23, 2015 at 19:46
  • 3
    It is not bad luck, it is just unfortunate. Unfortunate is when the cloud rains on you, bad luck is when the cloud follows you
    – Peter
    Commented Dec 24, 2015 at 21:09
  • @amalia I can understand this might be tough for you but if you're thinking hard while phrasing your question, it's actually good! I call it pushing your limits and putting your gray matter to good use. Don't worry, you won't have to struggle like that for long once you get a hang of it. Good luck! Commented Dec 29, 2015 at 14:29

3 Answers 3


I have addressed this in my Details, please post. I can understand how a learner might feel frustrated by a question like that, but that frustration goes both ways. When we see a question for something that looks like a simple idiom:

What is the meaning of the expression across the pond? Is it really a situation when someone in the UK mentions about a place in the USA?

we immediately wonder: Did this person bother to check a dictionary? Search on Google? And where did they find this phrase?

When we don't know the answers to these simple questions, it takes more time to write an answer, and, when we're done, we're not even sure if our answer will be helpful.

However, if a user just includes a little bit of supplemental information:

What is the meaning of the expression across the pond? Is it really a situation when someone in the UK mentions about a place in the USA?

I've seen this expression every now and then on the internet, for example, I saw it on this ELU question, and when I looked up pond in this dictionary, it said it's a "humorous way of referring to the Atlantic Ocean." But how common is that? Do most native speakers recognize that expression?

Now we have a clearer idea of what you've done, what you know, and what you still want to know about.

Don't think of it has how negative people are when you don't provide that information, think of how positive people will be when you DO provide that information. That's what Yoichi has done on ELU, and he's racked up thousands of rep points and was even elected moderator of that site.


I know that learning a new language can be very frustrating. ELL is meant to be a resource for you as you continue to learn English and encounter things that you can't find the answer to. That is the beauty of the entire StackExchange network. When people ask good questions that don't have a clear or easy to find answer online in other places, we're more than happy to write out detailed responses and make sure that you understand the answer to your question. And in doing so, we are creating a repository of information for others to look through in the future, so when somebody else is learning English and has questions, they can find their answer already answered on here.

At the same time, part of the process of learning is putting in work and effort. You only get out as much as you put in. I know that you're just asking for a definition, but if you find the meaning on your own, you'll be much more likely to remember it and understand it.

Simply Googling "across the pond meaning" brings up the answer without having to click any links:

enter image description here

The amount that you learn through finding the answer on your own is much greater than the amount that you learn through having the answer given to you. Also, knowing how to search for stuff effectively on Google is a very important skill that will help you down the road.

So please, ask away with any questions that you may have about English as you continue to learn. We'll be here and happy to help you. But ask after you've tried looking for the answer yourself.


I'm a non native speaker and I felt exactly same months back. But then, there's a point I learned.

As a learner, we make all efforts in learning the language. Native speakers simply make us 'remind' that! Said that, did we do any homework? Did we try to check the same question on the internet first and learn the basics?

There are many questions answered by dictionaries and other grammar sites on the Internet; first we need to check those sources, try to learn and if get confused or if we don't understand, natives here are all ready to serve their expertise.

As Alex demonstrated, things are answered on the Internet. If you still have query, come ask here.

In fact, on ELL itself, most of our doubts are made clear. So, it's not just searching the Internet, searching on ELL also helps a lot. You may simply use 'search' option or go through 'tags' if you want to learn things in general.

Reputed English teaching sites like Oxford, Cambridge, BBC come up quite fair on the search engine result pages. Or, in other case, you may simply click on any of these authentic sources in the result for your query.

For example, as a learner, if you are confused about using 'can' or 'could', simply googling it gets you an answer.

The results include British Council website. Click on it and you get the answer!

So, to conclude, it's not bad luck; we are lucky to have natives here. Yes, at times, you may feel that a bit harsh, but that 'harshness' makes you search, learn and be independent!

  • 1
    Perhaps you mean reputable instead of reputed. As was said before.
    – GoDucks
    Commented Dec 25, 2015 at 8:46
  • 3
    I'm going for this answer because you repeatedly mention the Internet and online resources. OP's "bad luck" doesn't make much sense to me, but I'm going to guess what he really means is Is it bad manners for people not to provide the sought-for information. Since we're presumably talking about this in the context of interactions that are themselves taking place online, it stands to reason the person who seeks information can just as easily look things up himself. Expecting others to do the donkey work is really just being lazy (so it's inconsiderate on the part of the querent). Commented Dec 26, 2015 at 18:28

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .